Feature

This gene-edited skin can detect its own glucose levels

The future is now

The University of Chicago solution to checking glucose levels.

"Constant finger pricks" to test blood for glucose levels is an annoying but essential fact of a diabetic's life, said Antonio Regalado at Technology Review. But a University of Chicago team says it has developed a potentially groundbreaking solution, turning gene-edited skin into "its own blood-sugar sensor." The team modified skin cells from a mouse using the gene-editing technique CRISPR, adding an E. coli gene that forms a protein that sticks to sugar molecules, plus DNA that produces fluorescent molecules.

Courtesy of the University of Chicago

When the E. coli protein stuck to sugar and changed shape, it moved the fluorescent molecules closer or further apart, creating a signal the team could see with a microscope. Grafted back onto the animals, the skin sensor proved to be as accurate as a blood test and required no battery. The next step is to adapt the technique to work on humans.

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